Georges Danton was a French revolutionary
@Revolutionary, Family and Personal Life
Georges Danton was a French revolutionary
Georges Danton born at
Georges Danton was born on October 26, 1759, into an upper middle-class French family in Arcis-sur-Aube in north-eastern France. He was born to Jacques Danton and Mary Camus. His was a respectable and well-educated lawyer family in the region. His facial scars and mild deformities were caused by animals that had attacked him in childhood. Further damage was done by smallpox.
Following in the footsteps of his father, Danton studied very hard to become a lawyer, and in 1780, he made a move to Paris for better career opportunities. There, he started an internship under a well-established lawyer and learned the tricks of the trade. Within four years of starting his apprenticeship, Danton was selected as one of the members of the bar of Paris.
Danton was not very much in love with his profession and never quite took it seriously in the early phases of his practice. His laid-back attitude kept clients away from him, and as a result, he was often broke and in debt. Like most of his peers, he was highly critical of the policies formed by King Louis XVI. The new liberal France was taking shape, and Danton aspired to become part of the movement to bring it to reality.
He married Antoinette Charpentier in 1787. She belonged to a rich family and from the dowry he got from his wife’s father, Danton cleared his debts. The couple had three sons, but the first one died in infancy. Tired of his law practice, Danton started looking around for ways to fulfill himself, and he ended up becoming a member of the ‘Cordeliers Club.’ He soon became its president. Around the same time, France was drowning in a sea of uncertainty, as its monarchs awaited their ultimate doom.
The ‘Cordeliers Club’ was a group of French bourgeois gentlemen that was centered on the “popular principle,” which stated that France needed to be a democratic country. They were one of the very first groups of people that had accused the rulers of France of being opposed to the idea of freedom. They raised the loudest voice and urged like-minded liberals to take strict action against the monarchy.
Noticing civil unrest of the highest order, the erstwhile king and the queen of France made a futile and risky attempt to flee the country. Following their capture, they were placed at the ‘Tuileries Palace,’ where they were kept under house arrest for some time before their fate was sealed. The queen of France, Marie Antoinette, proposed that the revolutionaries form a government that would co-exist with the monarchy.
The moderate constitutional settlement, as suggested by the queen, was welcomed by most aristocrats and ace military men, such as Lafayette. What ensued was a bloody massacre known as the ‘Massacre of Champ de Mars’ that took place in 1791. The crowd that opposed the royal decision was shot at by the national guards, killing dozens on the spot. Fearing for his life and feeling the strong anti-revolutionary wave in France, Danton ran away to England.
When he returned to France, he was given the post of a subordinate in the ‘Paris Commune’ on behalf of his party. In April 1792, the ‘Girondist’ government, which was still functioning as the constitutional monarchy, declared war on Austria, a country on the verge of an economic meltdown.
In 1792, after the official fall of the French monarchy, Danton was handed over to the ‘Ministry of Justice,’ owing to his past as a lawyer. He took a number of controversial decisions, one of the most brutal ones resulting in the deaths of thousands of war prisoners from Austria, the order for which was supposedly given by Danton. However, there has been no concrete proof of Danton’s direct involvement in the massacres, though he could have stopped it had he wished to do so.
In March 1794, Georges Danton and many of his followers were arrested and were subsequently charged with corruption. They also faced some serious allegations of attempting to restore monarchy in France. The trial began at Paris’s ‘Revolutionary Tribunal.’
A cunning man and a former lawman, Danton successfully turned the tide in his favor, making the judges believe that he was innocent of the crimes that he was being accused of committing. He further accused Robespierre of many crimes, with concrete evidences against him.
The “Convention,” however, exercised its powers and managed to pressurize the tribunal judges to declare Danton guilty. The judges had no choice but to heed the “warning” from the “Convention” and sentence Danton and his followers to death.
The execution took place on April 5, when Danton and 14 of his supporters were sent to the guillotine. It is said that before being decapitated, he had stated, “My only regret is that I am going before that rat Robespierre.”